The glaciers that disappeared 10,000 to 15,000 years ago left behind a richly segmented terrain that could almost be a text book for the ice age.
The still, sparsely populated land, the juxtaposition of extensive forests and wide open vistas, and the wealth of different terrains existing cheek by jowl – all these create the perfect conditions for an abundance of plant and animal species. The extraordinary diversity of waters provides a habitat to many species that are rare in Germany. Beavers and otters can be found throughout the reserve and, of the 22 different types of bat native to Germany, 16 can be seen here.
The undeveloped woodlands are home to ospreys and white-tailed and lesser spotted eagles. The high number of wetlands in these wooded areas provides the ideal habitat for the crane and black stork. And the white stork breeds in virtually all areas of the reserve.
But the landscape here is also the result of centuries of cultivation by man. The concept of a biosphere reserve includes land that has been worked by human hand, and this reserve contains some unique traces of history – the ramparts of former refuge castles and places of worship, villages attached to manor houses, large farmyards and unassuming timber-framed houses deep in the woodland settlements. Then there is Chorin Abbey, which exemplifies north Germany's brick Gothic style, while the ruins of Grimnitz Castle and Greiffenberg Castle are also of historical interest.